Engomi
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ENGOMI* Broad the plain and level; from a distance you could see arms circling as they dug. In the sky, the clouds all curves, here and there a trumpet golden and rose: the sunset. In the meager grass and the thorns stirred light after-shower air: it had rained there on the peaks of the mountains that now took on color. And I moved on towards those at work, women and men digging with picks in trenches. It was an ancient city; walls, streets, and houses stood out like the petrified muscles of cyclopes, the anatomy of spent strength under the eye of the archaeologist, anaesthetist, or surgeon. Phantoms and fabrics, luxury and lips, buried and the curtains of pain spread wide open to reveal, naked and indifferent, the tomb. And I looked up towards those at work, the stretched shoulders and the arms that struck this dead silence with a rhythm heavy and swift as though the wheel of fate were passing through the ruins. Suddenly I was walking and did not walk 203 I looked at the flying birds, and they had stopped stone dead I looked at the sky's air, and it was full of wonder I looked at the bodies laboring, and they were still and among them a face climbing the light The black hair spilled over the collar, the eyebrows had the motion of a swallow's wings, the nostrils arched above the lips, and the body emerged from the struggling arms stripped with the unripe breasts of the Virgin, a motionless dance. And I lowered my eyes to look all around: girls kneaded, but they didn't touch the dough women spun, but the spindles didn't turn lambs were being watered, but their tongues hung still above green waters that seemed asleep and the ploughman stood fixed with his staff poised.* And I looked again at that body ascending; people had gathered like ants, and they struck her with lances but didn't wound her. Her belly now shone like the moon and I thought the sky was the womb that bore her and now took her back, mother and child. Her feet stayed marble still and vanished: an Assumption. The world became again as it had been, ours: the world of time and earth. Aromas of terebinth 204 began to stir on the old slopes of memory breasts among leaves, lips moist; and all went dry at once on the length of the plain, in the stone's despair, in eroded power, in that empty place with the meager grass and the thorns where a snake slithered heedless, where they take a long time to die. 205 ...


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